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Lawrence Arabia


James Milne is a brave human.

Whilst the sleeves of many artists are adorned with well-worn hearts as they release their complete albums into the world, as New Zealand born singer-songwriter Lawrence Arabia, James’ latest project offers a rare glimpse into the creative process through 12 separate Lawrence Arabia’s Singles Club releases – now available on one handy LP and bringing together an extensive list of VIP members.

Launched as a Kickstarter to write, record and release a digital single every month in 2018, Lawrence Arabia’s 2018 Singles Club saw more than 368 backers pledge NZ$ 23,710 to help bring the project to life. Talented pals contributed to the project including The Ruby Suns’ Ryan McPhun, Hollie Fullbrook of Tiny Ruins (singing on ‘Everything's Minimal’), Heather Mansfield from The Brunettes (singing alongside Liam Finn’s drums on ‘A Little Hate’) and a dream collaboration with psychedelic hero, Van Dyke Parks. “The whole experience was initially terrifying but ultimately heart-warming and encouraging,” recollects James. “The energy from all that rampant human positivity ended up pushing me into the process of producing twelve new songs with some sense of manic, irrational vigour. It was pretty exciting.”

One day in late 2017, at his home in Auckland, James sent a message on a whim and suddenly found himself in an email tête-à-tête with Van Dyke.“The thrill was having the name Van Dyke Parks appearing in my email inbox and engaging the most florid parts of my vocabulary in order to respond to his brilliantly verbose communiqués,” he recalls. A “lullaby for neurotic adults,” ‘Just Sleep (Your Shame Will Keep)’ was originally written for Arabia’s psychedelic comedy podcast sensation, “Mysterious Secrets Of Uncle Bertie’s Botanarium,” but took on a new lease of life with the addition of Van Dyke's piano, accordion, scratch woodwind and double bass. “Since I first heard of Van Dyke Parks, I’ve been fascinated by him, appearing as he did, Zelig-like, in the stories of people somewhat more famous than he, yet making some truly glorious art himself. I’d always nursed a fantasy of working with him.

Constructed in Lawrence Arabia’s revered bedroom recording style, each Singles Club offering was built with ruthless ambition. ‘Everything’s Minimal’, ‘Cecily’, ‘Meaningless Words’ and ‘Oppositional Democracy’ began through the course of the year and were completed in the following months whilst other songs were revived from rough demos that followed 2016’s Absolute Truth as quickly and instinctually as possible.The time pressure of the process definitely influenced the way I arranged the songs – I had to make bold decisions and stick to them, or tear them apart brutally and start again pronto.”

Agent: Reuben Bonner

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